I have recently covered this topic but I intentionally avoided the real meat and potatoes and instead opted to make the point that homosexuals have been mistreated by others and that bullying homosexuals can inspire homosexuals to bully others. Especially groups of people whom they feel are weaker than they are.
Today, I will tackle this topic more directly.
For the last month or two, I have taken on a project. I am reading the comment sections on trans related news articles of various media outlets and I am participating in the discussions. I will write about this more in future posts. For now, let me just say it is not for the thin skinned. Internet comment boards are a place where people can feel safe to say the most bigoted and vile things imaginable, even on Facebook, where most people use their real name and even then, they frequently do not hide their bigotry.
Today, I am going to focus on the type of bigotry I have faced during conversations with people who comment when a primarily homosexual news site covers a trans issue. These conversations are usually between me and one or more gay or lesbian posters. After enough encounters, patterns begin to emerge.
I am making a disclaimer because it may be obligatory considering the subject matter. Here goes: The VAST majority of cisgender homosexual people I encounter online and in real life are BEYOND accepting. I support their causes and they support mine. We are all in this together.
This post is going to focus on the bigots. Yes, I have seen plenty of shameful bigotry within the trans community as well. There are rotten apples in every barrel. I hope our collective barrels are not spoiled, in spite of the rot.
Ok. End disclaimer.
The two LGBT news feeds I most frequently participate in via their comment sections are, “The Advocate” and, “Gay Star News” via their Facebook feeds. Both are outlets that tend to focus on gay issues the vast majority of the time, followed by lesbian news stories, then bi and trans articles combined getting about 5-10% of their coverage, and the occasional Q,I or A article thrown in to spice things up.
As I run through these examples, I want you to understand, these SAME types of comments popped up frequently, by multiple posters, over multiple comment threads. I am not listing things I saw just once, I am listing things I have seen dozens of times.
The first type of negative comment a trans story will tend to get is: “Why are you guys posting so many trans articles?”
To them, let me personally apologize for taking a teeny tiny sliver of your news outlet pie away from you. It must be hard to have to scroll past one in ten or twenty articles that do not directly relate to you.
These comments are far from the worst a trans person will encounter, but the point is made clear. “Trans news is not worthy of taking space beside their news.”
Then there are the ones who say something like: “Whatever floats your boat, just don’t hit on me.”
To them, let me personally apologize. You must get hit on a lot, so it must be a logical assumption that if the two of us ever came face to face, I would not be able to control my animalistic need to jump your bones. I will do my best to keep myself in check. I apologize in advance though, especially if I screw up.
Their point is made clear. These commentators do not find trans folk attractive and they want the world to know it. Again, far from the worst type of comment you will hear online.
Then there’s this: “There is no such thing as trans. They are just closeted homosexuals.”
To them, let me personally apologize. You caught me. My bad. I am sorry. I just thought it would be SO MUCH easier to land a gay man if I, you know, transitioned to female.
Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. Theirs is.
The next example: “My gender is male. I know this because I have a penis!”
To them let me apologize. I’m sorry. I too have a penis, for now at least, and all this time, in spite of my penis, I thought I was trans. I guess I was incorrect. And to think, it was right in front of me all this time!?! Gee! Thanks for the help!
Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. Also, these folks can’t be bothered with dictionaries and definitions. To them, gender and sex are exactly the same thing. They are not. Sure, they are used as synonyms on occasion but that is because most people have a gender identity that is in line with their physical sex. Also, they are used as synonyms because not too long ago, the word, “Sex” was considered to be much more vulgar than it is today. Gender was used as a euphemism to take its place. “Shoot” does not really mean, “Shit” but it can take its place as a euphemism. “Darn” does not mean, “Damn”. Aw, fudge it! Read a fucking dictionary! Clearly you have access to the Internet, you are posting to an online discussion. You can use your Google machine to make sure words mean what you plan to insist they mean.
This next one, I call the mansplaining cisplainer: “Nope. There is natural born male and female. Period. Case closed. And don’t bother appealing to the Mother Nature Court of Appeals because your case is dead on arrival.”
To him, let me apologize. I am sorry. I should have a better understanding of sex and gender, what with being trans and all. Oops.
His point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. He is here, to explain things to me, because I am a trans woman, and therefore, I am obviously not smart enough to grasp such things. Posts like this almost always begin with words like, “No.” or, “Nope” then go on to say things much like what I have already said myself minus the bigotry. So not only am I invalid in his eyes, my posts are not even worth reading by him before he replies to them, because he assumes he magically knows what I would say without reading it, and that is good enough for him.
This next one is often related to the one above, the same kind of person often falls into both categories: “Don’t call me, ‘Cisgender’ that is a slur!”
To them, let me personally apologize. I am sorry. It is hard talking about trans issues without a word to describe people who are not trans. I promise I do not intend it as a slur. “Cisgender” or, “Cis” means, “Non-trans”. If only you homosexuals had a word to describe people who are not homosexual. You know, those normal, non-homosexual people? It must be so difficult for you without a simple word to describe those people who are attracted to the opposite sex.
His point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. How dare I use a scientific word that means exactly what I think it means to correctly label a person who is not trans?
Then there is this type of comment: “If you were born thinking you could pretend to be a woman, then what is to keep me from saying I was born believing I am a mermaid/dragon/dog… etc.?”
To them, I offer this apology: I am sorry. That is an old joke. It was moderately funny the first time I heard it 8-10 years ago on, “South Park” when Kyle’s dad decided he would finally transition into a dolphin since he was born believing in his heart that he truly was one. The joke has since lost its luster. I see a variation of it in almost every single comment thread about a trans topic. Get some new material.
Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. It is a joke. You see, they too can pretend to be someone or some thing they are not. If you want, you can look at how I recently took down a person who claimed to be born Batman, see my last blog post.
The last two types of comments are complex. They are hard to summarize in one post, as they unfold through sometimes lengthy conversations.
The first type is the worst: The passive aggressive, bigot in denial. This person will stoop to almost any level. They will insult a trans person’s name, looks, gender identity, they may even mock a trans person’s feelings of dysphoria or suicidal thoughts. They are often subversive. One example of subversion was a guy who kept saying things like, “Sorry Charlie.” and, “No shit Sherlock!” to me, knowing full well he was calling me by male names, and still, I knew that he would be able to safely deny it if I ever called him out it because, hey, they are just things we say. These folks exhibit true troll like behavior, but they are fully in denial of it. it is like, they are convinced they are doing me a favor, by breaking the bad news to me
Their point is not as clear as others, but it is fascinating. They HATE trans people, but they know better than to just outright say it. They know they will look like a bigot, so they push your buttons in the desperate hope that you snap, say something rude to them, and give them permission to not only openly hate you, but to use you as an example in the future for why they continue to hate on other trans folk. You do not see this tactic much outside of LGBT feeds, but it happens all the freaking time in LGBT feeds. I guess people who have faced oppression themselves, know better than to be overtly bigoted, but my God! If you dare show ANY defensive emotion in response to their comments, they will let you have it. They want permission to show their hatred, but you have to take the bait first.
This last type is unique and also evolves and emerges over a long discussion. This type of person is abrasive and rude to you from the get go but underneath, you begin to see their compassion, respect and intelligence. They are like older siblings. They may play too rough at times, but they know the world is not for the weak, especially if you are LGBT. They have been there before and they want to help you climb to new heights.
Their point is harsh, but sound. The only problem is, sometimes they fail to realize that trans folk can have different types of triggers than cisgender homosexuals and therefore, they might cause a dysphoric bout in a trans person without realizing it or intending to do so.
That is it. These are the most common forms of bigotry I encounter on LGBT discussion boards. They happen all the time. I will be writing another post soon where I will give some tips and tricks to having a higher percentage of positive encounters when you are stupid enough to read the comments.
Until then, aloha,